June 20, 2018

President Isaias’ Speech on Martyrs Day

Distinguished Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me first thank all those who organized various activities – candle light vigils, seed planting, sport and cultural shows –so as to enable all Eritreans inside the country and abroad, including children and the old, to pay homage, on this sacred day, to our Martyrs who paid the ultimate price with heroism to secure our national liberation and to defend the sovereignty of the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The current year (2018), as well as the previous year that heralded the beginning of the second quarter of our independence, represent periods of epochal change and transition. These events cannot but imbue additional significance to Martyrs Day that we are commemorating today.

The Eritrean people, but also the Ethiopian people, have lost an opportunity of two generations for over half a century due to policies designed to promote external global agendas. When they achieved their respective liberations in 1991 through a common struggle, they embarked, with earnestness, on a new chapter. This was prompted by the desire to advance their complimentary bilateral interests as well as to enhance collective growth in the entire Horn of Africa region. Unfortunately, this promising beginning was rolled back by the resurgence of misguided global policies. The devastations, sacrifices and loss of opportunities that ensued were very heavy indeed.

The philosophical global order that the previous three US Administrations enunciated – in the aftermath of the abrupt collapse of the former Soviet Union – entailed huge economic losses to the United States worth trillions of dollars in the last 25 years. The decline is much graver when seen through the prism of soft power and influence. The imbalance and destruction that it wrought in our region has also been substantial. The Trump Administration, which has been in Office for the past year and a half, is essentially the byproduct or outcome of past failures. As such, it has been sending various signals that attest to its desire to change the defunct policies behind those losses. The resistance that it is confronting, above and beyond campaigns of disparagement, has not been negligible. Although it may still be premature to accurately gauge its ultimate intentions and capabilities, we shall continue to work together with our partners, in accordance with our policy choice of active engagement and without any reservations and prejudgment, to prompt the current US Administration to rectify previous misguided polices in our region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The events and developments that have unfolded in our region in general and in Ethiopia in particular in the recent period warrant appropriate attention. Needless to stress, it is the Ethiopian people – forced as they were into adversarial ties of vertical polarization – who were the primary victims, and who have borne the main brunt, of the destructive policies of the TPLF regime and its paymasters. The second, relatively bigger loss, stemmed from the TPLF’s ability to derail and frustrate the positive bilateral and regional all-rounded growth that could have been achieved through the complimentary resources and capabilities of the Ethiopian and Eritrean peoples. Twenty seven years is a long interval. The losses incurred and time wasted are thus huge in terms of this yardstick.

But as the damage inculcated on the Ethiopian people became increasingly unbearable, it spurred the wrath and a rebellion in the people who said “enough is enough”. This in turn precipitated the end of the TPLF’s shenanigans; which was aptly described as “Game Over”. Ethiopia is now at a turning point or transition. What is the destination? How will this be achieved? These are timely questions that must be raised. But although it will require time and efforts to remove the TPLF’s toxic and malignant legacy and to bring about a congenial climate, the positive direction that has been set in motion is crystal clear.

The TPLF clique, and other vultures, are dumbfounded by the ongoing changes. And, as they know full well that their game has come to an end, they will not refrain from concocting various machinations to obstruct any change and to mollify their wayward appetite. One of the worn-out tricks that they will try to wield to prolong their dwindling power and to impede positive change is to work for the perpetuation of tension with Eritrea and to preserve the illicit sanctions. This is best illustrated by their ambivalent public pronouncements of “yes…but” in these past days. This is designed to prevent a durable solution to the senseless border conflict that they unleashed in the first place without any justification. But their principal preoccupation and ill-will is to avert and frustrate any positive change in Ethiopia.

As it is the case with Eritrea, the people of Ethiopia also relish peace and harmony with their neighbor. There is nothing novel in this fact. The positive signals issued in these past days can be seen as an expression of this popular choice. The complimetarity of both peoples and countries, their common bilateral interests and prosperity, are sacrosanct objectives to which we have toiled and paid sacrifices for two generations. As such, it remains a priority for which we will be actively engaged. For this reason, and outside myopic considerations of public relations stunts and advantages, we will send a delegation to Addis Abeba to gauge current developments directly and in depth as well as to chart out a plan for continuous future action.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our assessments of global and regional realities and trends have significant impact on the policies we formulate; and especially on our domestic cohesion and power; and, the economic growth and prosperity of our country to which we attach paramount importance and priority. In this perspective, it is natural that we see our various sectoral developmental programmes in relation to our neighbours in general and with Ethiopia in particular. The precious sacrifices that we have paid both during the struggle for liberation and later to protect our sovereignty were driven by these objectives. Our commitment to advance these objectives now with great vigour is a tribute to our Martyrs.

Glory to our heroic Martyrs!

Victory to the Masses!

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